OPINION: Uber Continues Being Immature

OPINION: Uber Continues Being Immature

After their self-imposed exile a little over a year ago, Uber and Lyft are preparing to make their return to Austin with the approval of bill HB100. Yet, in spite of the passage of time in between the earlier legislative drama and the present bill, I can only wonder if anything has changed for any of the groups involved.

Uber and Lyft both left the City of Austin over tensions revolving the regulation of its employees. More specifically, the City of Austin wanted the drivers of ride-hailing companies to be subject to various background checks, including fingerprinting. When Uber’s massive ad campaign to stop mandatory fingerprinting failed, the two ride-for-hire services simply blew town, leaving Austinites to use traditional taxis and smaller ride-hailing companies simply because the larger groups chafed under a single law.

Given that Austin has actually been doing fine without the two ride-hailing giants, it’s a bit of a mystery as to how or why this bill got proposed in the first place, let alone how it got passed.

The mayor of Austin himself noted that HB100 essentially allows the previous fingerprinting requirements to be ignored entirely, meaning that the common people’s’  vote is also, yet again, ignored entirely. Uber and Lyft have remained relatively staunch in their opposition to restrictive regulations, suggesting that it’s the City of Austin that’s caving in to the requests of the company, even though Austin has been managing with other ride-for-hire services like RideAustin, Fasten, and GetMe.

I don’t have any problems with the requests Uber and Lyft have made for equal regulation of taxis and ride-hailing services. The year-old exile both companies made when their requests were denied makes their demands gain brutish, “big-stick” overtones. Big-stick overtones that, as already stated before, haven’t exactly left Austinites begging for Uber and Lyft back.

Regardless of the reason for the passing of the new bill, it seems that the two on-demand transport giants have decided to come back for a second chance.

Whether Austinites will allow them to have their do-over remains to be seen, though I don’t fancy the companies’ chances.

Several smaller ridesharing companies stepped in to fill the vacuum Uber and Lyft left behind, and they’re already preparing to rally Austinites to, essentially, boycott the two major players. While this might sound a little odd, it’s likely to be more effective than it sounds. The memory of Uber and Lyft’s ad-based dramas (and their subsequent severance from Austin) have likely stuck in the minds of many Austinites, least of all myself. Those memories could easily be used to prevent Uber and Lyft from re-entering a niche that had already been filled during their absence. And, of course, the idea of Austinites boycotting Uber and Lyft after those two giants had previously done the same has a delicious sense of irony.

I’m not saying that we should remain vengeful or entirely hostile to the two major companies who decided to suddenly leave after they were asked to accept a single condition that proved unfavorable for them. That would be displaying the very immaturity I criticized them for in my past article. I’m just saying that they need to be made to feel the consequences of their actions for a change. Just saying that they could use something to knock them down a peg. Just saying that they’ve been a little deficient in humility. And respect for the wishes of their customers. And basic self-control.

The residents of Austin may as well teach them a little of each.